Ellie Krieger on healthful eating

Jan 07, 2015

Krieger is a nutritionist, registered dietitian and author. Krieger’s most recent cookbook is “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). She blogs and offers a bi-weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com. She also writes weekly Nourish recipes in The Washington Post’s Food section.

Good afternoon, and welcome to 2015. If you're like me and need to get a jump-start on healthier eating this year, Ellie is here to help.


Read her column on 4 food resolutions really worth making.

Also, a recipe for her family-favorite minestrone.


Let us get started.

I store produce in Tupperware with a vent or in green bags. I feel like I don't use it all quickly enough & waste a lot. It's just myself & my husband who doesn't eat as healthy. How to not waste without going shopping too frequently?

No one wants to see good food go to waste! When it comes to greens, I find they last longest when I wash them and dry them very well, then wrap in slightly damp paper towel before placing in a bag. Other produce will last longer if you wait to wash and cut it until just before use. Also do not rule out frozen produce (without added seasonings or sweeteners). It has comparable nutrition to fresh, cooked produce and means you can always have produce at your fingertips even if you haven't been able to get to the market. Frozen spinach, peas, corn, berries and mango are staples in my home

Hello and HappyNewYear! I'm wondering how I can calculate a serving size when a recipe only shares the number of servings? Is there an easy to do this? Thank you!

Happy New Year to you too! I know it is not common to get serving sizes on recipes. I provide them for all of mine and it usually means I have to dump the batch of whatever I have made into a large measuring cup and divide by the number of servings. I have not figured out an easier way that is accurate. If you know the volume of the pot you are using you could also eyeball the total quantity in the pot and divide without transferring the whole batch.

Hi Ellie, I try to be careful about what I eat, but that said, I really prefer dark poultry meat to white. While watching Martha Stewart prepare a duck breast, she mentioned that it was in many ways as healthy as a chicken breast. I can't remember the details of how she explained it - what is your take on this? On a related note, I would love it if you could do a column (or series) on what constitutes healthy and unhealthy fat in our diets in the light of recent research. I started cooking in the fat-phobic 80s and 90s, where some even steered clear of olive oil and avocados. I know things have moderated, thankfully, but I am unclear what I should be looking for when deciding what to incorporate into my diet. I would love your reader-friendly nutritionist's view! Thanks.

Chicken breast offers you more protein for fewer calories and less saturated fat than chicken thigh or duck. But it is fine to eat chicken thigh and duck once in a while---they are delicious of course, and also have high quality protein and even more minerals than chicken breast. But they are higher in calories and saturated fat, so it is best to keep portions on the small side.  

Regarding fats, keep in mind that most of us should be trying to get more monounsaturated fat (avocado and olive oil and nuts) and omega 3 (from fish). But if you add those fats, think about what to swap out (ie: refined sugars and refined flours) since you also want to keep calories in check.

My goal this year is to try new (to me) vegetables, and in January it's celery root. The Post had a lovely salad recipe last week, but I'm hoping for something warm. Any brilliant ideas? Thanks!

That is a great goal for 2015! I think you will have fun with it! celery root is so delicious and underrated. You can use it very much like you would use a potato or a turnip. For hot dishes, you can peel it, cut it into chunks and cook in stews or soups. Also try steaming it until tender and mashing with a little milk, salt and pepper and a touch of butter---just like mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

I know processed wheat is a no-no, but what about whole grain?

Whole grain wheat offers tremendous benefits: B vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber for example. Plus it is satisfying and tasty! I especially love Farro which is an ancient grain variety, which use in salads, and as a bed for stews. I also enjoy wheat berries and love a hearty whole grain bread. As with any food, just keep portions in mind. One or two slices of bread or 1/2- 1 cup farro is a sensible portion range for a meal.

what about hardened lard, sold in the supermarket in brick form? is it a toss-up compared with butter?

Both should really be used sparingly in favor of more healthful fats like olive oil. Seems like a toss up between the two to me: 1 TBS lard has 117 cals, 5.1 g saturated fat and 1 TBS butter has 100 cals, 7.2 g sat fat.

Is there a healthy equivalent to bone broth that is a vegan broth?

For those readers who haven't heard about this craze, bone broth is basically what our grandmothers call stock. Animal bones and sometimes vegetables boiled down to extract all the flavors and minerals and then strained.  It is comforting, hydrating, tasty and nutrient rich. A vegan broth could be made with a variety of different vegetables. It wouldn't give you the same nutrient profile as one made with bones, but it would also be packed with nutrients and flavor. 

With the recent media craze over bone broth, what do you think about bone broth delivery services - such as Bare Bones Broth Co., who makes bone broth in small batches weekly and ships them nationwide directly to those who need them?

I have not heard of this company, but it sounds like it could be good! 

Hi Ellie, My 25-year-old nephew loves to work out and is in great shape. However, I'm worried about his diet. He and his fellow gym rats seem to think they need to consume as much protein as possible. I worry that they are overdoing it and may cause damage in the long term. Can you recommend the outlines of a sensible diet for active young folks who work out regularly? Thanks!

I know exactly what you are talking about! I have seen guys at my gym order 3 chicken breasts for lunch---that's it! A generous amount of protein is important for building muscle, but it doesn't need to be done at the expense of your health. Getting adequate vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants from a balance of foods (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts seeds beans, dairy, healthy fats) will help their athletic performance and appearance, ultimately. One easy step in the right direction is to encourage your son to make half his plate vegetables and/or whole fruit.

Hi Ellie! I am so excite about your chat! My children are such big fans of both sloppy joes or tacos, but I am trying to use less meat now both for health or spending too. Is there a good way to make this type of food without meat? Maybe with either beans and fish that would help me meat my health goals for my family?

My family is a big fan of sloppy joes and tacos too! I like to incorporate chopped sauteed mushrooms and/or beans into my recipes for them so I still use some meat, but up the vegetable factor. You can simply replace a half pound of the meat in your usual recipe with one drained can of beans or a pound mushrooms, finely chopped and sauteed. Also remember to use lean ground meat (90% lean or higher)

One of my resolutions is to be less lazy about reheating leftovers in a real bowl and not just sticking the plastic container in the microwave. Is it still okay to STORE in plastic though?

Yes! That's fine. To be safe, just toss the container it if it gets very scratched up.

What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietician? You list both among your credentials so I'm wondering what one has that the other doesn't. Thanks.

Legally speaking, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. To become a registered dietitian you have to complete certain academic and experiential requirements, pass an exam and keep up with continuing ed credits. 

In This Chat
Ellie Krieger
Ellie Krieger is the Food section's Nourish columnist. Her most recent cookbook is "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less." She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
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